What does hip arthritis look like on an x ray

Optional radiographs are obtained fairly routinely by HSS joint replacement surgeons. They include the Lowenstein lateral, cross-table lateral, false-profile and elongated femoral neck views. All of these help to identify the precise site where early joint space narrowing/or bony changes occur and are either responsible for, or secondary to, osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common disorders of joints. The joints most frequently affected are the hip, knee, shoulder, the big toe and the base of the thumb. Degeneration of articular cartilage, leading to osteoarthritis, can occur naturally over time with a age or as a secondary condition to an associated injury, such as a trauma or repetitive-stress or occupational injury. Articular cartilage degeneration is a gradual process.

As the disease progresses, osteophytes (bone spurs) form along the joint margins and bone cysts and sclerosis are typically present. When osteochondral or cartilage fragments break off they can remain in the joint or can get larger and are referred to as intra-articular loose bodies. Fluid can form in the joint secondary to the arthritis and is referred to as an effusion.

Osteoarthritis of the hip, X-ray

Imaging for Osteoarthritis: An Overview

Osteoarthritis of the hip, X-ray

In addition to helping diagnose osteoarthritis, radiographic technologies can also be used to guide your doctor while applying treatments. For example, anesthetics and/or steroids injected into an arthritic joint can help reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. It is helpful to perform such injection procedures using image guidance, because the doctor can see that the needle tip appropriately inserted into the joint space. This kind of direct visualization can be performed using CT, ultrasound or fluoroscopy (a continuous, real-time X-ray that works like an X-ray movie). A joint injection performed under fluoroscopy or CT guidance, is called an arthrogram. The radiologist will inject a small amount of contrast agent into the joint to better visualize it and confirm accurate needle placement. With ultrasound, the radiologist directly visualizes the needle inside the joint, as well as neighboring muscles, arteries and veins.

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What kinds of specialized imaging can help diagnose osteoarthritis?

Typically, the cartilage in one of the joint compartments (that is, the medial, lateral, or anterior patellofemoral joint compartment) is most severely affected. The standing X-rays may show narrowing of the involved joint space of the knee. Altered alignment of the knee joint is very common as either the cause or as a result of osteoarthritis. The patellofemoral joint (at the front of the knee) can be the focus of osteoarthritis of the knee or part of a more generalized condition. Lateral subluxation or patellar malalignment is very common.

The standard X-ray examinations obtained to evaluate the knees in patients with osteoarthritis are:

What does hip arthritis look like on an x ray

X-ray Of Hip With Osteoarthritis Photograph by Zephyr/science Photo Library

When cartilage is lost, bone rubs against bone. This can cause to cysts or fluid-filled cavities can form in the bone, which will also be visible in an X-ray. The body also responds with sclerosis (increased bone density), in which more bone grows in where the cartilage used to be. The joint surfaces become misaligned and osteophytes (bone spurs) may form. There are basic routine X-ray views for imaging each joint:

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Conventional radiographs – Routine X-ray examinations


Anteroposterior (front to back) X-ray image of the knee showing osteoarthritis. Note the narrower spacing on the right side of the image, where cartilage has degenerated.

Regardless of the joint that is affected, osteoarthritis is revealed on conventional radiographs (X-rays) by characteristics that are distinct from other joint disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Specifically, an X-ray of a joint with osteoarthritis will show a narrowing of the space between the bones of the joint where the cartilage has worn away, as shown in the image below.

Hip arthritis; correct diagnosis?

Arthritis: An Overview

Symptoms of osteoarthritis may arise before the damage can be seen in standard X-rays. For this reason, radiologists at Hospital for Special Surgery often use the more sensitive MRI, CT and ultrasound forms of imaging, which are superior for detecting early osteoarthritis.

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What are the different types of imaging examinations for osteoarthritis?

In order to detect early cartilage wear, HSS uses special X-ray views in place of or in addition to these standard views. These specialized views are designed to increase the sensitivity of the conventional radiographic study.

The findings from radiographic imaging depend on the stage of a person’s OA. The doctor who orders the imaging will use the description and gradation of osteoarthritis (“localized or diffuse” and “mild, moderate or severe,” etc.) to determine treatment options. Treatments include conservative, nonsurgical therapy or surgery.

Osteoarthritis of the Hip and how hip pain is treated at SSC.

hip arthritis x-ray

Standard X-rays of the hip

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What is the imaging process for hip and knee osteoarthritis?

The faculty members of the HSS Department of Radiology and Imaging at HSS are board certified radiologists with fellowship specialty training in musculoskeletal imaging and cross-section imaging (MRI, CT and ultrasound). Although other types subspecialty physicians perform some of these procedures, radiologists are doctors who are trained in the use of all forms of imaging. They also have specific training in the physics behind the imaging, the safe use of ionizing radiation (fluoroscopy/CT), as well as in MRI and ultrasound safety.

    MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is very sensitive imaging that can reveal subtle changes in bony and soft tissues. An MRI can show a reactive bone edema (fluid build-up in the bone marrow, which causes swelling), inflammation of soft tissues, as well as degenerated cartilage or bone fragments lodged in the joint. HSS uses a protocol of specific MRI pulse sequences to identify early evidence of cartilage degeneration. When evidence of cartilage wear is detected early, treatment can begin to prevent or delay progression. This in turn can postpone or eliminate the need for surgery.

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